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Blood sales banned in bid to halt HIV spread
Updated: 2005-12-06 19:48

China will make collection centres responsible for the safety of blood and ban sales of donated blood to contain the spread of HIV and other diseases amid a series of reported HIV infections from sold plasma.

Blood sales banned in bid to halt HIV spread
The HIV virus granulating at the surface of a lymphocyte. An HIV carrier in northeast China who gave blood 15 times before he was diagnosed with the virus unknowingly infected at least 21 people. [AFP]

The new Health Ministry rules vow to "severely punish those responsible in the blood stands for the serious blood transmitted diseases caused by the unqualified blood". They also ban the sale of blood products for experimental stem cell treatments.

The regulations issued by the Ministry of Health are "to ensure the safety of blood and regulate the operation of blood stations", a statement posted on the ministry Web site said.

The regulations take effect next March and are intended to put into effect China's Blood Donation Law, which took force in 1998.

The move follows a series of cases in which hospital patients were infected with HIV in hospitals after receiving blood sold by HIV carriers.

A blood seller in northeastern Jilin province infected at least 23 people with HIV before being diagnosed with the disease, the Xinhua reported on Saturday.

In northeastern Heilongjiang province, 19 people diagnosed with AIDS sued a hospital because they got AIDS using the blood the hospital provided, which was provided by an HIV carrier, Xinhua reported.

China said it had 135,630 confirmed HIV infections at the end of September and warned that the spread of AIDS could affect the nation's economic development. During the 1990s, most of China's AIDS sufferers contracted the disease by selling plasma, especially in central Henan province.

China's increasingly mobile population now faces a broader risk as more infections occur through drug injection and sexual contact.

Jeffrey Busch, the chairman of the Safe Blood International Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit organisation that is advising China on blood collection, said the country had improved blood hygiene but still lacked many protections.

"China has built the buildings, equipped the buildings, and staffed them, but not everyone has had proper training," he said in an interview.

Busch said that blood transfusions still accounted for a "significant number" of new HIV infections in China.

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